Tourtière: the Glorious Canadian Meat Pie

Tourtière: the Glorious Canadian Meat Pie

As a Canadian living abroad, I’m sometimes called upon to provide a meal from the old country. Even though the last city I called home in Canada was Vancouver, and about as far from French Canada as you can get, I still have a special place in my heart for that clove-scented meat pie from my childhood. I did grow up in small village close to the Quebec border, and my mum is from Montreal, so we did have tourtière when I was small.

It’s generally thought to have been made since about 1600, but to be honest, the meat pie is a typical medieval dish – small pieces of meat, together with vegetables in a pastry crust was found all over Europe. Like those medieval pies, tourtières take advantage of whatever meat is fresh and available. For French settlers in Quebec, that would have been pork, veal, beef, or game meat. The pies I had growing up tended to be all pork, and the dominate seasoning was cloves – from my reading I now understand that to be Montreal-specific, which makes sense.

Mmm.. homemade tourtière.

The most recent tourtière I made here in Germany was a pork and beef mixture, with the addition of summer savoury as per the recipe in [amazon_link id=”0997660848″ target=”_blank” ]More Than Poutine, Marie Porter’s book of Canadian recipes for those of looking to recreate some of our favourite things from home[/amazon_link]. The summer savoury makes sense as Porter is from Winnipeg, and that’s a very Manitoban addition.

Marie Porter's cookbook for Canadians abroad, looking to recreate some favourites.

Marie Porter’s cookbook for Canadians abroad, looking to recreate some favourites.

If you’re looking to recreate your favourite Canadian chocolate bars or bakery treats (*cough*Jos Louis), this is a handy book to have. However, if you’re from the west coast, like I am (at least partially) a lot of these recipes may not seem familiar. Atlantic Canadians, however, will rejoice I suspect!

Regardless, I am happy to have this easy tourtière recipe. As with most meat pies, tourtière is excellent eaten warm or cold, and makes an excellent addition to any picnic. I personally eat mine with thick slices of sweet and sour German pickles, but it’s great all on its own too.

Tourtière

Recipe courtesy of [amazon_link id=”0997660848″ target=”_blank” ]Marie Porter’s More Than Just Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land[/amazon_link]

I added allspice in deference to my Jamaican Canadian heritage, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t have it. Never ever leave out the cloves however! I added half the milk and stock noted below in the recipe and found it almost too moist, so I would suggest add half and see how the filling goes, add more if it looks dry.

Serves about 8 

500g /1 lb ground pork

500g /1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 celery ribs, finely chopped

2 carrots, grated

125ml / 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1-2 tbsp / 15-30ml dried summer savoury

1/2 tsp ground allspice [my editorial addition]

2-3 tsp / 10-15ml ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tsp / 5ml salt

1/4 tsp / 1ml ground cloves

2 cups / 500ml milk (see headnotes)

1 1/2 cups / 375ml beef or chicken stock (see headnotes)

2 pre-made pie crusts, or double pie crust recipe of choice, prepared

1 large egg

1 tbsp / 14ml cold water

  1. Combine meats, vegetables, and seasonings together in a large pan or pot, stirring until everything is relatively uniform. Add the milk and the broth, stirring once again. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer – stirring often – until the liquid has cooked off, and the meat has broken down almost to a paste. This should take about an hour, give or take. Once it’s ready, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 220ºC/425ºF.
  3. Line a deep dish pie pan with one pie crust, carefully working it into the corners. Fill pie pan with meat filling, spreading it into the corners and mounding it in the center.
  4. Use the second pie crust to cover the filling. Crimp the edges as desired, poke a couple of slits in it. If desired, roll any extra dough very thin, cut into shapes, and apply to the crust for decoration. Whisk together egg and water, brush over the entire top of the pie.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, turn heat down to 190ºC/375ºF and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Serve warm or cold.

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Pressure cooker chicken ramen

Pressure cooker chicken ramen

A good bowl of ramen is a three-part experience for me: a filing and satisfying meal, an emotional restorative, and a pork-scented steam facial. I have been lucky enough to live in Vancouver, a city with a ramen district housing at least ten different tiny restaurants serving incredible ramen, as well as a scattering of other shops throughout the city. The proximity to Japan and Vancouver’s large Asian population keeps these ramen shops up to date and authentic. Well, let’s use authentic loosely, as ramen has been a bit of a mash-up since the beginning.

Now that I live in a small town in Germany, a good bowl of fresh ramen is only going to happen if I make it. So, of course, I had to try. I took as inspiration my favourite Vancouver ramen: the Tori Shio at Benkei Noodle Shop. This is pretty lightweight when it comes to ramen: a chicken broth as opposed to fatty pork, lean slices of chicken breast, spinach, a smattering of corn, and the noodles. But it’s my favourite. So my at-home version is chicken-based too, and uses ingredients you can find in most big grocery stores.

I often make dinners with how I’ll use the leftovers in the back of my mind, and generally this means they’re going into my ramen. Roasted root vegetables, brussel sprouts, fried onions – these are all good. This is a favourite post-roast chicken meal. My [amazon_link id=”B00FLYWNYQ” target=”_blank” ]Instant Pot[/amazon_link] is my best friend here – it makes generating both the broth and the ramen-style soft-boiled egg super quick.

Ramen broth

  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 4 litres of water
  • 5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 2 tbsp mirin

Pressure cooker instructions

  1. Put chicken carcass, water, ginger, garlic, and mirin in your pressure cooker, set for 90 minutes on high pressure.
  2. Use quick release, open your pressure cooker and strain out the bones and other bits. Jar up your broth and refrigerate, or set aside.

Slow cooker or stovetop directions

  1. Put chicken carcass, water, ginger, garlic, and mirin in a large pot, and put on medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let it go for as long as possible – four hours is ideal. If using a slow cooker, set to 8 hours on low.
  2. Strain and bottle up, refrigerate or set side to use immediately.

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Make your ramen

  • 1 litre of ramen broth
  • 2 packages of ramen noodles, sauce and broth packets discarded
  • Salt to taste

Toppings, any or all of the following

  1. Bring the ramen broth to a boil, and then add the noodles, following cooking directions. Pull the noodles out with tongs into big bowls, then divide the broth between the bowls.
  2. Add your toppings, slice ramen egg in half before placing on top of noodles if using.

Recipe note: I don’t add salt to my broth as I’m using a carcass from a roast chicken I’ve made myself which I salt generously. I like adding salt to my ramen right before serving so I can really taste it. Feel free to add salt to the process wherever you want though. 

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Grilled sprouts with lemon and parmesan

Grilled sprouts with lemon and parmesan

grilled sprouts txt

I have an obsession with the crispy brussel sprouts with lemon, parmesan and capers from the wine bar around the corner from our place. A dish of those, their bone marrow cheese toast, and a glass of Viognier is just perfect in my book.

Anyway.

I have tried to recreate this dish at home, but the deep frying requires equipment I don’t have. I don’t have pots big enough, it uses too much oil, the smoke alarm goes off – you get the idea. But I thought that maybe I could get some of that lovely crispiness from grilling the sprouts. After a useful lesson in making chicken souvlaki from Cooks Illustrated in which you don’t do much to the chicken beforehand, but dump it in an olive oil dressing directly after coming off the grill, I decided to do the same with my brussel sprouts. It doesn’t quite have the same heavenly richness as the Flying Pig version, but that just gives me an excuse to go back…

grilled sprouts 2

Grilled Sprouts with lemon and parmesan

  • A quantity of brussel sprouts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat and oil your grill.
  2. Slice off the base of each sprout, then slice in half. Thread them on skewers, with flat halves all facing the same way. You’ll need quite robust skewers for this, my sharp metal ones came in handy here.
  3. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and salt together in a bowl just big enough to hold your sprouts. Taste, and adjust salt and lemon as needed.
  4. Adjust grill heat to medium. Brush sprouts with oil, place on the grill, turning occasionally. You want grill marks, but they go from nicely marked to decidedly burnt quite quickly. There’s no harm in flipping them often, thankfully.
  5. Remove the sprouts from the grill when just starting to become tender (poke with a knife). Using hot mitts and tongs, remove the sprouts from the skewers directly into the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with parmesan and toss again. Serve immediately.

grilled sprouts1

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Lunch box love

Lunch box love

Next in a series of things you don’t want to think about yet, it’s lunch boxes!

I’m discussing this now, because some of the beautiful lunch accessories I mention require mail ordering from Japan. And I am only thinking of your schedule here.

Mini_Marvel_Bento_2_grande

I like these two-level round Marvel bento boxes from Bento&co. My son has had the Spider-man one for a year, and it fits stonewheat thin crackers, as well as having a built-in spoon (though not a waterproof section, fyi). It’s a good size for a kindergartener lunch.

Totoro-Bento-boxes-new-05_grande

 

We are big fans of My Neighbour Totoro in this house, and I admit I bought this bento box (also from Bento&co) as much for me as for my son. This is a one-level with a moveable divider inside. It’s a handy one for a sandwich and some baby carrots.

onyx bento

It’s an uninspiring photo, but the two-level stainless steel bento boxes from ONYX are really lovely. The clamps holding the whole thing together manage to be easy to open while also secure. If you’re not keen on plastic, but don’t want to send glass, this is a good solution. These boxes come in three sizes.

lunchskins sharks

We like Lunchskins snack bags to eliminate plastic bags for snack time. The larger bags could conceivably fit a sandwich, but I tend to fill them with things like little crackers and raisins, or grapes, or even a muffin. The little ones are great for single servings of crackers and whatnot for snack time. Beware, when they are new, the velcro can be a bit aggressive, and pops open suddenly, sometimes showering everyone around in penguin crackers. I say this from experience.

And if you need ideas on what to put in those lunch boxes, I have a ridiculously huge Pinterest board on that subject…

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Where to find Japanese home cooking recipes

Where to find Japanese home cooking recipes

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a wee bit of money if you click on a link and buy something. This helps me defray the costs of creating this blog, so thank you!

Happy Birthday to me!

Not much in the way of exciting party times, but a good solid selection of Japanese food delivered for dinner. I thought I’d share some of my favourite recipe sources for making Japanese food at home, since it’s been such a favourite. Pop My Neighbour Totoro on the television and plan your meals!

Just One Cookbook

Just One Cookbook is an extensive recipe blog by a Japanese ex-pat living in California. She’s got a great newsletter as well, so it’s worth signing up. Her video recipe series is exhaustive!

JUST-BENTO_bookcover

This is one of my [amazon_link id=”1568363931″ target=”_blank” ]go-to cookbooks[/amazon_link], and it’s driving me crazy I can’t find it. Don’t ignore it because it seems like it would all be lunch box food – it’s not. Really simple recipes for all sorts of homey Japanese food that makes terrific leftovers, ready to go in your bento.

LetsCooking_cover-web1

I’ve just discovered Hana Etsuko Dethlefsen who is based right here in Vancouver. She teaches Japanese homecoming at the University of British Columbia, and if you live in Canada, you can catch her on One World Kitchen on Gusto TV. Her self-published book, Let’s Cooking, is available on her site. And I really want to do one of her cooking classes.

 

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